Shutdown fears of a concerned grandmother and social worker

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It took a few days for me to catch up with Vickie Moore, a 67-years-young concerned citizen, a “worried” grandmother and a conscientious Hennepin County social worker. During the day she is a full-time social worker, and in the evening, she is an avid supporter of her grandchildren—one of whom Vickie said experienced a recent “crisis” that she helped her grandchild get through. Like many Minnesotans, she has concerns about the impending state shutdown, both as a state employee and as someone concerned about its potential impact on her family.

On the evening when we talked, Vickie threw tennis balls across her yard for her dogs to fetch. Her voice affectionate, Vickie said, “Sam is the most rambunctious of my rescued dogs.”  Sam proved her right as he barked intermittently in a playful, happy manner more than the other dogs while he scurried around Vickie with enthusiasm and disrupted our conversation a couple of times.

Vickie told me in a straightforward manner, “If I get laid off, I get laid off.” In the same breath, she shared her concerns regarding the essential services that may be stopped or impaired on July 1 due to a state government shutdown. Vickie said, “I am worried about my grandson who has autism and other vulnerable people.”

Vickie stressed, “People are really nervous, and it is not fair to have the most vulnerable feel this way” about whether they will have access to essential human services for living a productive life.

She said as a result of state funds that have been made available in the current Minnesota budget, her grandson who has autism has been tested, and he is in the getting help to enable him to be placed in a regular public school atmosphere. However, if the new state budget is not resolved by June 30, she said her grandson will probably not continue with his progress.

Vickie said as a social worker she asks this question regarding people who face challenges that many refer to as disabilities: “What does a person need to live a more filling life?” Because she believes most people want the opportunity to work, she said this is a crucial question.

The goal is to keep people productive, she said. For instance, a young adult who may have physical mobility limitations resulting from a car accident, yet the person’s cognitive abilities are still intact, would benefit by a social worker asking this question: “What is the least restrictive environment for the person?” Vickie said the most restrictive environment would be living in a nursing home, and the least restrictive would be living in an apartment.

“Some people just need help regarding mobility issues such as using the services of a personal care assistant (PCA) to get them started in the morning.” Once they get out of the house, their cognitive skills are such that they can handle several types of jobs. Vickie fears if the GOP state legislature and Governor Mark Dayton do not soon agree on a budget for the next two years, vulnerable adults will fall by the wayside and be subject to unnecessarily more restrictive lifestyles.

“Minnesota has always given people a hand-up rather than a hand-out…and now we need to stand on each other shoulders,” she said. “I’m an old person, and I remember when people would go before county commissioners, forty years ago, and ask for air conditioners,” and other needed items. Vickie added, “I hope we don’t have to go back to those days.”  Vickie said she believes that is what will happen if the budget crisis is not settled soon. However, she said she is feeling a little more relieved because Governor Dayton and the GOP legislative leaders are talking.

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